Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs in 7-16% of adults, making it a common ailment across the UK. It is a condition that highly applies to women due to hormonal fluctuations that increase fluids in body. This is especially relevant with pregnancies. Additionally, it is a condition that people become more prone to as they age.
In this article, you can learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome—how to deal with it and how to avoid it. We will educate you on the condition, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in the carpal tunnel, which is a passage in the wrist where the nine flexor tendons of the wrist run alongside the large sensory nerve, the median nerve.
It occurs due to swelling in the tissue, which leaves too little space for the nerve to function smoothly, pinching it in the process. It can lead to irritation and inflammation that, in turn, can result in carpal tunnel syndrome – often a significant nuisance that worsens at night.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms
- Pain and tingling sensations in fingers – most often in the middle finger and index finger
- Decreased sensation in the supply area of the nerve (thumb, index finger, middle finger, the half of the ring finger that is closest to the middle finger, the palm corresponding to the part below the mentioned fingers).
- Reduced force and less muscle power in the thumb
- It worsens at night or when the arm is still.
- Difficulty handling small items, such as coins (due to reduced motion and coordination)
- Reduced force in affected fingers
When to call a doctor
Some symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are easy to live with, why it may be tempting to postpone dealing with the disorder. If you experience constant decreased sensation and muscle wasting, you should act immediately, as these two symptoms can be a sign that the nerve is severely pinched. In such cases, without treatment, it can lead to permanent damage, which cannot be remedied with surgery.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome
You can do a Carpal tunnel syndrome test through Phalen’s trial: When the wrist is sharply bending, a dormant sensation occurs in the fingers within ½ minutes as the pressure on the median nerve increases. There may also be pain that radiates into the forearm. If you do not suffer from the condition, you should do the above for up to 3 minutes or longer without any pain or feeling.
At the doctor, the diagnosis is on how you describe your symptoms. If the condition is severe, you will transfer a nerve conduction examination.
What are the leading carpal tunnel syndrome causes?
If the carpal tunnel becomes too narrow, the median nerve, which runs through it, gets pinched. If so, irritation or pain will occur, which means you cannot usually use your hand.
There are many reasons why the carpal tunnel tightens. The most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is inflammation of the tissue in the wrist, as it causes swelling, which adds pressure to the nerve.
There is often no specific reason why the inflammation occurs, which obviously can be pretty frustrating. Typically, you will start to explore whether it is related to tendon irritation and rheumatoid arthritis.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes
- Tendon irritation
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Implications from a bone fracture
- Congenital narrow space conditions
- Low metabolism
- Congestion through one-sided hand movements during work. See box below.
Work related carpal tunnel syndrome
- There is an added risk for carpal tunnel syndrome through doing work motions that are either powerful or repetitive
- There is an added risk through consistent hand and arm vibrations
- If your wrists are consistently extended without relief, it can play a role in developing the condition.
- Proper body mechanics are critical in preventing the condition alongside consistent breaks to rest, stretch, and change positions.
- Your workstation setup is essential in terms of securing a proper work environment.
Source: University of Michigan Health
Is carpal tunnel syndrome a work-related injury?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an occupational injury if you are subject to a workload that triggers the condition. Your doctor will typically oversee that assessment.
To make you eligible, you need to check all three boxes below:
- The defendant owes you a duty of care (legally, that will always be the case in employer/employee relationships).
- Negligence by your employer meant they breached their duty of care.
- Due to the negligence, you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Source: Accident Claim Today
How to cure carpal tunnel syndrome?
Initially, dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome is all about relief. Avoid whatever activity causing the condition and reduce how much you carry and lift with your hand. It makes sense to support your wrist with a splint so that you can reduce irritation. If you are overweight, weight loss can help make you less prone to the condition in the long run.
Additionally, look at your work environment to see if you are at risk during working hours. Are you set up correctly at the office with, e.g., an ergonomic keyboard for carpal tunnel syndrome?
- Steroid injections
If a wrist splint does not help, a steroid injection into your wrist might work. This brings down swelling around the nerve, easing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Steroid injections do not always work the first, why you may need to come back after a few months for a second injection.
If injections do not work either, you might need to see a specialist discuss surgery. Surgery typically cures the condition in one go, but you will have to decide with your doctor if it is the appropriate treatment option for you. After receiving a local anesthetic, a small cut is made in your hand that relieves the pressure on the nerve inside the carpal tunnel.
Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery
- The operation typically takes place under local anesthesia
- Duration: Approximately 20 minutes
- The operation can be performed either as an open operation or as a binocular operation
- During the procedure, the doctor splits the tendon band to make the carpal tunnel more expansive, and the nerve has better space to run through.
How to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
You can reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome by being aware of the triggers and minimizing your exposure to them. If it happens at work, you can investigate whether certain aids can have a relieving effect.
Suppose you are, for example, an office worker and sit in front of the computer for many hours. In that case, it is a good idea to explore how you work in the best positions when working with a keyboard and mouse is unavoidable. You can investigate different gear that prevents you from putting unnecessary strain on the wrists in such cases.
For instance, you must ensure that you have a proper chair and a height-adjustable desk that allows you to switch positions from time to time. Also, you can acquire a specialized keyboard and computer mouse for carpal tunnel syndrome that relieves your hand and wrists when working.
Carpal tunnel syndrome exercises
There are stretches and exercises to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from the comfort of your desk. From wrist rotations to thump stretches. If you feel any pain during these exercises, stop at once and let your doctor know. If you are unsure about it, always consult with your doctor.
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